MPs Moses Kuria and Waititu acquitted of hate speech charges

MPs Ferdinand Waititu and Moses Kuria in the dock/CFM

MPs Moses Kuria and Ferdinand Waititu have been acquitted of hate speech charged due to lack of evidence.

The two were acquitted by Nairobi Magistrate Charity Oluoch who ruled that the English and Kiswahili translations provided as part of the evidence in the case were incorrect.

Kuria and Waititu were facing incitement to violence charges, having been arrested alongside four other MPs in what was commonly referred as the Pangani Six when they were arrested and detained in June last year.

In her ruling, the magistrate concluded that the video content of the evidence adduced in court could have been altered or edited.

“The source of that video clip is not known as it was uploaded on YouTube by unknown persons,” the magistrate pointed out.

Other leaders arrested with them at the time were Machakos Senator Johnstone Muthama, Suna East MP Junet Mohamed, Timothy Bosire of Kitutu Masaba, Kimani Ngunjiri of Bahati and Women’s representatives Aisha Jumwa and Florence Mutua of Kilifi and Busia respectively.

Kuria and Waititu were accused of uttering words tantamount to bringing death to Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) leader Raila Odinga.

They had denied committing the charges at Kasarani during Njogu wa Njoroge’s thanksgiving service.

Junet and Mutua on the other hand had threatened to storm the office of the Inspector General of Police unless certain people were arrested and charged.

Muthama was accused of making similar threats on June 11, to storm the IG’s office.

Ngunjiri on the other hand uttered words that members of the Luo community should vacate Nakuru and go back to Kisumu.

Bosire had allegedly said President Uhuru Kenyatta had failed to unite the Republic and that chaos would erupt, as Jumwa was accused of saying that there would be no peace following remarks by Kuria.

The other legislators are yet to know their fate.

Previous cases of hate speech have suffered the same fate for a lack of or weak evidence.

On January 27, a Nairobi court dropped hate speech charges against Kiambu Governor William Kabogo for lack of evidence.

Governor Kabogo was taken to court for allegedly making disparaging remarks against Opposition leader Odinga.


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  1. LWK says

    Imagine how many politicians would have been in jail or charged with crimes if the same types of statements were criminalized in America during the last U.S. Presidential election. Is free speech protected under the Kenyan Constitution or not? Incitement to violence should a clear legal definition, such as if someone specifically tells someone or a crowd (mob) to go throw bricks through a window in a public institution or someone’s residence. Or perhaps a statement that is actively telling others to do harm to someone in particular. But as the Nairobi judge wisely declared, there has to be more proof than a YouTube video that could have been doctored or bad translations. Hate speech should be reserved to statements that specify one group to attack another group based upon racial or discrimatory grounds, which in the case of Rwanda led to Genocide. But be clear what is being criminalized and be clear on what ‘hate speech’ entails. Thousands of people would have been jailed for expressing their opinions in America during and after the election there otherwise; but debate should be free and open, according to Kenya’s Constitution, ACHPR, and UDHR rights for freedom of expression.

  2. LWK says

    I will be watching these developments carefully since criticizing the President or any public official should be criminalized since these are merely opinions. People will make their own decisions based upon their own views, news, and other information. But control of media and opinions are the tools of dictators and centralized control through intimidation and threats, which are just as bad as the statements they aim to criminalize. Of course, telling groups of people to go and do harm to other groups of people along racial or discriminatory lines amounts to the potential for Genocide and these are the types of statements we need to guard against. Otherwise, we become a society of overly-sensitive grown-up wusses who run to tell their Mommies when someone says something they don’t like. In places like Communist-ruled countries, it is the modus operandi of dictatorship since neighbor must tell on neighbor and family member tell on other family members to get ahead in the society and be a good member of the Communist Party. But Kenyans are not Communists, hopefully not.

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